Hola all. Massawyrm here.
This is why wealthy industrialists should stay the fuck out of the arts.
It is the year 2016. Gas costs $37 a gallon. The Dow has dropped to 4000. Railroads are the most efficient form of transportation once again. Congress has gotten its shit together and can pass legislation in mere hours and does so against the will of the wealthy monopolists who they are publicly dismantling. Money can’t buy influence. America hates innovation. And the suits in Washington concern themselves with the manufacturing sector rather than shuffling money around in the markets. Yes. ATLAS SHRUGGED is pure science fiction.
And it is a film impossible to separate from the politics surrounding it. Independently financed and distributed, the producers turned to the Right Wing media machine to push it rather than other conventional methods with good reason – it is shameless propaganda woefully out of touch with a world 55 years older than at the time of its source's writing.
Ultimately, its ideas are only going to connect with the already converted; it is a sermon that will only bring the choir back and do nothing to fill the church next Sunday. The producer’s goals to make a film to introduce a new generation to the philosophy of Ayn Rand have failed miserably. Instead, he’s created the world’s worst strawman argument, a film that – with the deletion of a few choice lines – would actually skewer the powers that be pushing this film. Sean Hannity recently called this the movie “liberal Hollywood doesn’t want you to see.” That’s because they’re liberals, Sean. They have hearts. And no one deserves this. No one except the people who somehow think they’re sticking it to the man by seeing it.
The film is a meandering mess that has no idea what story it is telling. While I understand the notion of wanting to turn a 1300+ page book into a trilogy, the only way to make that work is to make sure that first chapter has its own three act structure rather than a slaphappy dash of everything you’ll need to understand a second (as yet unmade) movie. Here, entire scenes exist only to drive the film’s dogmatic adherence to its own philosophy – even in the face of reason – and the already stunningly dull narrative gets bogged down in even more ludicrous conversations that will sound profound only to the dullest of minds. ATLAS SHRUGGED is relatively plotless – a seemingly endless string of scenes of maneuvering against an enemy that just doesn’t make any fucking sense at all.
The antagonists here don’t seem to have any rational motivation. They are cartoons – the type of people who you hear about in mindless political rants screamed by fringe dwelling, tin foil hat wearing lunatics. The villains are hand wringing bureaucrats and conspiratorial lobbyists hellbent on the diabolical dismantling of prosperity in America for the sake of…get this…not themselves, but the PEOPLE! DUN! DUN! DUNNNNNNNNN!
I certainly understand the desire to want to lash back at the more culturally prevalent philosophy of “we’re all in this together”, especially when your core philosophy is “Every man for himself.” But when a film comes along and paints liberals as sinister cigar smoking fat cats, feasting on opulent dinners and in all ways acting like Libertarian corporatists until the revelation that their dirty backroom politics are for the good of “the people” and “the nation” and they won’t seemingly be getting much real gain out of it at all…I have to wonder: what the fuck were they thinking? Who seriously believes this shit? The only people who think that there really are a group of people out there who are altruistically evil are only going to see this if their meds don’t knock them out too early and the home their kids abandoned them in has a shuttle service.
Seriously, who the fuck thought they were going to make money off a film selling tickets at senior citizen prices? No one under the age of fifty is even going to be able to understand the world presented here. It is a United States shut off from the rest of the world, in which nobody seems to use computers and Congress acts seemingly on the whims of a few people who want nothing more than to destroy wealth. It doesn’t make a lick of god damned sense. It is an elaborately constructed fantasy that falls apart the minute the audience begins asking *very simple* questions.
The film hinges on the idea that when a wealthy steel magnate designs a new type of steel that will facilitate heavier trains moving faster and a railroad baroness tries to use them to replace a crumbling, 100 year old line prone to train derailments, a group of bureaucrats decide that this is unfair competition to all the existing steel companies and must be stopped – for the good of the country. Never once does anyone mention that if this steel works, it will create an untold amount of jobs as every railroad in the country gets updated and countries around the world demand the importation of this new steel…because that would undermine the point of the whole movie. Because it is a notion from a time before the military industrial complex took hold, before government became tied into corporate welfare, before computers and cellular technology made globalism a reality. It is a horror film for people with more money than sense, painting them as heroes against a monolithic Robin Hood-style government that seeks nothing but to steal from them and give to the shiftless masses.
Lazy made-for-television production values mixed with community theater dialog and even worse performances make for a film no one will believe five years down the road was ever actually shown in theaters. Dyed in wool Randians will certainly be able to follow along with their copy of the home game, but the philosophy is so poorly presented that I’d be surprised if it won over a single convert. For a movie so dedicated to innovation and the exaltation of the creative, this is nothing but a sad imitation by the mediocre – a cinematic pissing on Ayn Rand’s grave as her ideals are distorted for cheap political points.
If you find a copy of this sitting around anywhere, do yourself a favor: set it on fire.
Until next time friends,